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USA vs Germany: Which Country is Better for International Students?

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Tumul Buch
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Studying in Germany vs USA will definitely be an enriching experience for students academically, socially and professionally. USA is undoubtedly the all-time favorite among Indian students with around 10,00,000 international students enrolled at various levels of programs. Germany happens to be the most in-demand study abroad destination in Europe attracting over 4,00,000 international students every year. Germany has a major competitive advantage over the US in terms of cost of studying and leads in the field of scientific and technological research.

Wondering which country is better, Germany or USA? In this guide, we will give you complete context on USA vs Germany with details of leading universities, education system, admission requirements, cost of studying, scholarships, PR, student life and more to help you compare and make an informed decision between two of the top study abroad destinations - USA vs Germany for Indian students.

Table of Contents

Top Universities to Study in USA vs Germany

The first thing that comes to the mind of an international student while comparing education in Germany vs USA is the university ranking. In a comparison between rankings of universities in USA vs Germany, it is quite evident that US universities perform better in rankings.

Top 10 Universities in USA

It is worth noting that the top 10 universities in the US rank among 20 globally with 5 institutions in the top 10. Here is a table showing rankings of the top 10 universities in USA as per QS World University Rankings 2023:

Universities

World QS Rank 2023

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1

Stanford University

3

Harvard University

5

California Institute of Technology

6

University of Chicago

10

University of Pennsylvania

13

Princeton University

16

Yale University

18

Cornell University

20

Suggested: View more top colleges and universities in USA

Top 10 Universities in Germany

The top 10 universities in Germany rank in the 200 globally and are climbing the global ranking ladder gradually. Take a look at the top 10 universities in Germany:

Universities

World QS Rank 2023

Technical University of Munich

49

Ludwig-Maximilians Universität

59

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

65

Freie Universität Berlin

118

Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin

118

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

141

RWTH Aachen University

147

Technische Universität Berlin

158

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

169

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

189

Suggested: View more top universities and colleges in Germany

Admission Requirements for International Students in USA vs Germany

Universities in USA as well as Germany accept applications twice a year. The 2 semesters in USA are commonly referred to as Fall and Spring whereas it is the Summer and Winter intakes for German universities. Firstly, you will need to fill out an online application, pay the necessary application fee and attach necessary documents. A number of supporting documents such as recommendation letters, personal statement, essay, etc. may be required for admission to UG and PG courses for USA vs Germany for Indian students.

The educational qualifications required for admission to study in USA vs Germany are similar. However, German institutions expect international students to demonstrate a basic level of German language proficiency in addition to English language proficiency. Apart from this, the requirements may vary for different institutions.

Discussed below are the basic eligibility criteria for admission to UG and PG courses in USA vs Germany:

Country

Eligibility Criteria

USA

Complete 12 years of schooling for admission to UG courses.

Complete 3-4 years of bachelor’s degree is required for admission to master’s degree programs.

You will need a minimum IELTS score of 5.5 for admission to bachelor’s degree and 6.0 to 6.5 for master’s degree programs.

Universities may ask for SAT or ACT scores for UG courses and GMAT or GRE scores for PG courses.

Work experience may also be required for management related programs such as MBA.

Germany

To enroll in an undergraduate degree, you must complete education up to class 12th.

A German equivalent bachelor’s degree is required to apply for master’s degree programs.

A minimum IELTS score of 5.5 for UG courses and 6.0-6.5 for PG courses are required.

Additionally, for admission to German institutions, proof of German language proficiency such as TestDAF or DSH is also required.

Universities may also ask for GMAT scores to get admission to management programs and GRE scores for other programs.

USA vs Germany: Tuition Fees for International Students

Before making up your mind to study in USA vs Germany, you must compare the tuition fees. One of the most remarkable features about studying in Germany which distinguishes it from other countries is that tuition is free at all public institutions in Germany. You will only have to pay a semester contribution fee of 100-350 EUR to study at public universities in Germany. Even if you look at the tuition fee for private universities in Germany, it is much lower compared to the USA.

Look at the table below and see for yourself the tuition fees in USA vs Germany for Indian students:

Program

Tuition Fees in USA (in USD)

Tuition Fees in Germany (in EUR)

Undergraduate degree

30,000-60,000

10,000-30,000

Graduate degree

50,000-60,000

12,000-40,000

Doctoral program

28,000-55,000

100-350

Diploma/ certificate/ vocational training

10,000-26,000

100-350

Suggested: Comprehensive guide on cost of studying in USA/cost of studying in Germany

Cost of Living for International Students in USA vs Germany

You must understand the difference in cost of living USA vs Germany as you will be paying it on a regular basis even if you choose to study at a public institution in Germany without any tuition fee. You will need around 1,000-1,500 USD per month to meet your living expenses while studying in the US. On the other hand, international students in Germany require a minimum of 867 EUR per month i.e. 11,208 EUR per year to meet the expenses for accommodation, food and other living expenses. Your monthly budget will depend on your location, lifestyle, type of accommodation and various other factors.

A detailed breakdown of the cost of living USA vs Germany can be seen in the table below:

Expenses

Cost of living per year in USA (in USD)

Cost of living per year in Germany (in EUR)

Accommodation

9,000-15,000

3,000-5,000

Food

3,600

2,000

Utility bills

300-1,200

200-900

Phone & Internet

600-1,800

350-400

Public Transport

1,200-3,600

300-2,400

Entertainment

3,600-7,500

700-800

Health insurance

500-1,000

1,100-1,200

Also Read: Cost of living in USA/ Cost of living in Germany

USA vs Germany: Financial Aid for International Students

The costs of studying abroad may be overwhelming for international students. But to save you from such hardships there are several financial aid options for studying in Germany vs USA. Take a look at the scholarships and funding opportunities in USA vs Germany for Indian students:

Financial Aid in USA

Even if you wish to study in the USA and feel burdened by the tuition expenses, you can apply for the numerous merit and need-based scholarship opportunities available for international students. Given below is a list of popular scholarships for Indian students in USA:

  • Fulbright Scholarship
  • Rotary Peace Fellowship Program
  • Clark Global Scholarship Program
  • Stanford University Scholarship
  • Yale University Scholarship
  • ACI Foundation Scholarship
  • AAUW International Fellowships
  • Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship
  • Tata Scholarships
  • Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowships
  • Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation Scholarships
  • Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowships

Suggested: View more scholarships for international students to study in USA

Financial Aid in Germany

As you know there are no tuition fees for public universities in Germany, the need for financial aid is also less. Yet DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), business affiliated organizations and party-related foundations in Germany provide financial support to international students. You can also get 300 EUR per month as Deutschlandstipendium for at least 2 semesters. Here is a list of scholarships that Indian students studying in Germany can apply for:

  • Friedrich Ebert Foundation: Scholarship for International Students
  • Friedrich Ebert Foundation: Scholarship for International Doctoral Students
  • IIT Master Sandwich Scholarships
  • Bayer Science & Education Foundation: Otto Bayer Scholarships
  • Development-Related Postgraduate Courses (EPOS)
  • Semester Scholarships for Students of Indian Institutes of Management (IIM)

Suggested: View more scholarships for international students to study in Germany

System of Education in USA vs Germany

Before moving any further, we must understand the differences in the education system of Germany vs USA. Every student has different needs and while some may find it better to study in the US education system others may be more comfortable studying in Germany. To know which education system caters to your needs the best, take a look at the points discussed below:

USA

  • At US universities, an associate degree is the most basic level of program that you can pursue after completing high school. It is more common in the North American region.
  • Moving further are the bachelor’s degree that can be completed in 3-4 years, master’s degree that is usually 2 year long and PhD that takes 4-6 years to complete.
  • You can also pursue a certificate, diploma or vocational training that are 6 months to 2 years long as these may also open doors to many job opportunities.
  • A 4-point GPA scale is followed in the US education system that takes into account various factors such as class performance, tests, extracurricular participation, achievements, etc.
  • You can pursue an honors degree in USA only if you have the minimum required GPA score.
  • US courses provide great flexibility to even study courses in a discipline not directly related to your area of study.
  • Colleges in USA usually have a smaller student body compared to universities.

Suggested: How is the education system in USA?

Germany

  • There are more than 400 state universities in Germany offering over 20,000 programs.
  • The programs offered in Germany include bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate and diploma which is usually comparable to a masters degree.
  • It takes 3-4 years to complete a bachelor’s degree, 1-2 years to complete a master’s degree or diploma and 3-4 years to complete PhD in Germany.
  • There are 3 types of universities in Germany known as academic universities, universities of applied science and universities of arts and music.
  • The programs are grouped into Engineering, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Medical Studies, Law, Economics and Social Science, Humanities, Linguistics and Cultural Studies, Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture, Forestry, Ecology, etc.
  • Several universities in Germany offer programs taught in English.

Suggested: How is the education system in Germany?

Student Life in USA vs Germany

Whether you choose to study in USA or Germany, you will get to be a part of a culturally and ethnically diverse environment with students from every corner of the world eager to share and learn just

USA

  • The US is home to 18 cities ranked in the QS Best Student Cities in USA 2023 including Boston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, etc.
  • The staff at US universities is very supportive especially for providing services to international students and to make resources available for a smooth student life.
  • University life in the US is a lot of things apart from the excellent education and exposure such as the opportunity to meet new people, participating in sports, eating out, going on hiking, trekking and other fun activities, partying, etc.
  • Even at your university there will be no lack of opportunities as US universities encourage participation in various clubs, sororities, fraternities, intramural sports, social service and volunteering among other options.

Suggested: How is the student life in USA?

Germany

  • Germany has a well-established network of transportation which is even better than the US.
  • You will also get the advantage of location as Germany is centrally located in Europe and with a German student visa you can take the opportunity to visit 26 neighboring countries during summer breaks.
  • Studying in Germany will help you develop a great network and also the opportunity to meet new people mainly from Turkey, Portugal and France.
  • You might face a language barrier if you are not proficient in German as German is the official language of the country.
  • The cost of living in Germany is also affordable compared to USA.

Suggested: Best student cities in Germany

Student Visa Process to Study in USA vs Germany

A student visa is one of the most important documents required to study in USA vs Germany for Indian students. After getting admitted to an institution, the first thing you have to do is apply for a visa along with all necessary paperwork.

Summarized below is the process to apply for student visa for education in Germany vs USA:

Visa Process in USA

Visa Process in Germany

You need a F-1 student visa for studying in USA.

A residence permit is required to stay in Germany for a period exceeding 90 days.

An application fee of 160 USD and SEVIS fee of 350 USD is to be paid.

An application fee of 75 EUR is required.

Processing time: 15 days to 12 months

Processing time: Up to 25 days

Requirements:

Copy of passport

Passport-size photographs

Academic transcripts

SEVIS fee receipt

Acceptance letter from a US university

English language proficiency test scores

GRE/ GMAT/ SAT/ ACT scores

Financial documents including bank statements, tax return, FD certificate, etc.

Requirements:

Completed visa application form

Copy of passport

Recently taken passport-size photographs

Proof of admission to a German institution

Proof of German language proficiency

Proof of English language proficiency

Academic transcripts

CV

Health insurance

Letter of motivation

Financial evidence showing at least 11,208 EUR in a bank account.

Stay Back Options After Studying in USA vs Germany

Knowing your stay back options after studying in any country is essential to understand your opportunities for the future. USA vs Germany, both countries have quite different stay back options. The key differences between the stay back opportunities after studying in USA vs Germany are discussed here:

USA

  • To stay back in USA after studies, you can apply for an Optical Practical Training (OPT) before or after completing your program.
  • You will be allowed to stay in US for 1 year with an OPT.
  • If you are enrolled in a STEM course, you can stay in USA for 3 years after completing your program.
  • You can apply for a H-1B visa and work in USA for 6 years with a sponsoring employer and if you can prove to USCIS that your qualification for the position.

Germany

  • After completing your program in Germany, you can apply for a residence permit that can allow you to stay back for 18 months.
  • In this period, you must look for a job related to your field of study.
  • If you can get a job offer in Germany before completing your program, then it is possible to directly apply for a residence permit or EU Blue Card.

USA vs Germany: Post Study Work Opportunities

Being aware of the post study work opportunities and average pay scale is an important element to consider before deciding between USA vs Germany. Students with the right skills and expertise from both these countries are highly valued among employers.

USA

  • A fresher in the US can earn 24,000 USD per year in the initial years of their career while the highest salaries can go up to 423,000 USD per year with experience.
  • The average salary of a working professional depends on the organization, job role, position, experience, etc. and is around 94,700 USD per year.
  • The most highly sought after job sectors in US are Finance, Management, Data Science, IT, Biomedical, Engineering, Advertising and PR, etc.
  • Coming to the graduate employability rankings of US universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago rank in the top 10 globally in QS rankings 2023.

Suggested: How to find jobs in USA as an international student?

Germany

  • On an average, a working professional in Germany earns a salary of 45,700 EUR per year.
  • Jobs in Germany are available in various fields including healthcare, electrical industry, IT and telecommunications, mechanical and automotive industry and construction among others.
  • An important point to be noted is that the tax rate in Germany is higher than in the US.

PR in USA vs Germany

Getting a PR in USA is very complicated and the process is lengthy too as it takes years to fulfill even the eligibility. Even to get a PR in Germany, you must fulfill the stayback period which is similar to the US but you can also avail shorter stay time. Take a look at the table below to understand the PR process in USA vs Germany:

PR in USA

PR in Germany

You must live and work in USA for at least 5 years to apply for a “green card” if you fulfill the conditions.

To get a PR in Germany, it is a necessary condition to live and work in Germany for a minimum period of 5 years. You can become eligible for German citizenship after living in Germany for 8 years or if you marry a German citizen.

Suggested: Top ways to settle in USA as an international student

With this, we leave you to decide which country is better Germany or USA. From the above comparison, you can understand the pros and cons to study in USA vs Germany. Selecting between USA and Germany is a matter of personal choice as the needs of each and every student is quite different and only you can decide what can cater to your requirements best. Speak to our Yocket counselors today and get expert guidance to choose the best country.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Studying in USA vs Germany

Is it better to study in USA or Germany?

Is it cheaper to study in USA or Germany?

Which country has better job opportunities - USA or Germany?

What are the top courses to study in USA vs Germany?

Is Germany safer compared to US?

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